Man charged over tiger kidnapping

A MAN charged with the false imprisonment of former county hurler Adrian Ronan and his family appeared at Kilkenny District Court yesterday (Tuesday).

A MAN charged with the false imprisonment of former county hurler Adrian Ronan and his family appeared at Kilkenny District Court yesterday (Tuesday).

It is believed that this is the first time anyone has been charged in relation to a Tiger kidnapping in the history of the State.

Following an extensive garda operation, gardai from Kilkenny travelled to Dublin early yesterday morning where they arrested the suspect, Stephen Freeman. Superintendent Mick Nevin said that the court hearing was a ‘significant development’ in the investigation and thanked the people of Kilkenny for their assistance in the case to date.

Stephen Freeman of 3 Balcurris Gardens, Ballymum is charged with false imprisonment of the Ronan family at Ballyhendricken, Ballycallan on November 3, 2009 and of attempted theft and possession of a firearm at the same location on the same date.

Detective Garda Nora Cuddy of Kilkenny Garda Station said that she arrested the defendant at his home in Ballymum shortly after 9am yesterday (Tuesday) morning and conveyed him to Kilkenny Garda Station where she charged him with the three alleged offences. The defendant made no reply after each charge was read out to him, the court heard.

The unemployed 24-year-old, who was wearing jeans and an anorak held his baseball cap between his hands during the short hearing. Solicitor John Harte successfully applied to the court for free legal aid. The court heard that the defendant’s family were of limited means and would be unable to provide a significant independent surety for bail.

Judge Gerard Haughton remanded the defendant in custody to appear at Kilkenny District Court on September 20. “He will be admitted to bail when he surrenders his passport,” he told the court. Judge Haughton said that he would grant the defendant bail on condition that he sign on daily between 7am and 10pm at Ballymun Garda Station, surrender his passport to gardai, stay away from Kilkenny city and county except for on court dates and to stay away from any witnesses involved in the case.